Public transit planning, planning for metro area, employee service awards highlight Idaho Transportation Board’s March meeting          

Valley Regional Transit’s short-range plan for public transit in the Treasure Valley, discussions about the Metropolitan Planning Organization in south-central Idaho, employee service awards, and a tour of Idaho State Police’s forensic lab highlight the Idaho Transportation Board’s March 14-15 meeting.

As part of its activities this month, the board will tour a couple of facilities March 14.

In the morning, it will tour the State/Chinden Campus and visit Idaho State Police in the afternoon. The main focus at ISP will be the forensics lab. This is mainly a follow up to earlier presentations related to marijuana and highway safety. The board expressed interest in ISP’s drug-testing capacity and limitations, as it was noted that there is a big backlog.

Valley Regional Transit Short-Range Plan
At the business meeting in the auditorium March 15, Valley Regional Transit (VRT) will give a presentation on its short-range plan.

VRT is responsible for delivering a variety of transportation solutions to meet the needs of up to 19 rural, suburban, and urban local governments and agencies within its two-county service area, Ada and Canyon. Its short range plan addresses the travel needs and provides a blueprint for the future of public transportation in the Treasure Valley. It addresses services and capital projects aimed at lowering the cost of urban transportation and providing the freedom to move in an efficient manner.

The document includes plans for significant growth in fixed route and other VRT programs. The six-year plan addresses how the citizens of the two counties can maintain the freedom to move even while the region continues to add more jobs, people, and opportunities. The VRT Board is expected to act on the draft plan in April.

Designation of Magic Valley as Metropolitan Planning Organization
Last year the federal government designated Twin Falls and Jerome counties as a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). Statistical data about MSAs help government officials and businesses review information about per capita income, spending patterns, and unemployment rates.

This designation created some confusion with a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) designation. An MPO is an area with more than 50,000 in population and is a federally mandated and funded transportation policy-making organization made up of representatives from local government and governmental transportation authorities.

Staff will report to the board that due to the confusion with the designation and in anticipation that the Twin Falls urban area will meet the 50,000-population threshold to be designated as an MPO after the 2020 census, it met with community leaders and agencies to discuss the various designations. It assured the community that ITD is committed to making the Magic Valley MPO successful within the next five years. Staff will meet with local elected officials in the fall to continue discussions and provide assistance with determining MPO membership, structure, and adopted policies.

Employee Service Awards
The board will also participate in the employee service awards at 10 a.m. Member Jim Coleman from District 1 will provide remarks on behalf of the board. The ceremony will honor 40 employees with a combined 600 years of service.

Published 03-09-18